North East Bedfordshire MP Alistair Burt hailed “a great night” for “a fantastic community club” as Biggleswade Athletic Club members celebrated a brilliant year of individual and team performances at their annual senior presentation night.
Taking place at Sandy’s Garden Court, the evening kicked off with a series of lighthearted honours delivered by chairman Damien Pitts, including recognition for club secretary Hannah Broom’s cat, who has recently taken to using the gravel around the shot put circle for something other than the intended purpose.
From there, it was on to the main business, with Mr Burt – himself a keen runner – on hand to dish out a string of prizes. Club championship races, taking place over various distances, had been run throughout the season, and honours were won by Jamie Hall (men’s 5km, 10km and half marathon), Elaine Livera (ladies’ 5km and half marathon) and Juliet Nayler (10km). Paul Davies and Isobel Everest each retained their 10 mile championship crowns, while Juliet Nayler – having completed her final season for the club – bowed out with a ninth successive 10km title. The Endurance Trophy went to Nick Haworth, in recognition of a fine time of 2:57:22 in the Chester Marathon.
The Most Improved Athlete awards deservedly went to John Stott and Natalie Morgan, both of whom enjoyed outstanding seasons, cementing themselves as key members of the club’s distance-running and cross-country squads.
For performances in the Southern Athletics League, Morgan Webster and Sarah Ridley earned male and female Track Athlete of the Year accolades, while multi-event specialist Daniel Steel and throws guru Sandra Ingham took the equivalents in the field.
Sandra also took honours in the veteran female age 50-59 category, with other golden oldies recognised for their Eastern Masters Athletics exploits including Marcus Davey and Hannah Broom (age 35-49), and Robin Wynde (age 50-59). New veteran track and field team captain Charlie Arnold ended the season as top male in the over 60s category, and his versatility on all surfaces and various disciplines was rewarded with the Complete Athlete award.
The final award of the evening, the Lonely Pines Trophy for Club Members’ Member of the Year, voted for by the whole club, went to the chairman Damien Pitts himself for his deft handling of a challenging season for BAC, which included long-awaited, much-needed and deliriously received refurbishment of the Sandy Track facilities.
Damien said: “It was great to see so many Biggleswade AC members attend the senior presentation night and a big congratulations to all the award winners. There were good turnouts for each of the club championships last year, and many members did great things in 2017. Everyone receiving an award fully deserves it.”
The club has also awarded lifetime memberships to four individuals whose selfless contributions have been valuable to BAC in recent years. They were: outgoing treasurer Mark Stead, who has bowed out of this vital committee role after an epic 10-year stint. Mark is also part of the club’s photo-finish crew, along with Sonia Edwards, who has also been recognised for her longtime, sterling coaching work with BAC’s youngsters: the Little Bees and Mini Bees. Julia Mackay was another, the former communications coordinator who currently operates as a run leader and oversees the club’s social media. Lastly, Peter Howell’s outstanding work as track manager, maintaining the track and field facilities in Sandy over several years, in all weathers, not only saw him receive a lifetime membership, but after a challenging 2017 which saw the track closed for a lengthy period, it also earned him the mantle of Club Member of the Year.
Damien said: “We were delighted to give this special thank-you to Mark, Sonia, Julia and Peter, four BAC members who have supported the club for numerous years, putting in so many hours to make the club what it is now.”
Reflecting on the presentation night, he added: “A special thank you to Bev Strong for organising another fabulous night – I can’t wait till next year’s event.”
Mr Burt echoed his comments, saying: “What a great night! What struck me most was the sense of encouragement of members for each other. Not all the awards were for excellence of achievement – not everyone can be the fastest. But everyone can improve, and everyone can demonstrate through their effort and commitment, either to their event, or to the club as a whole, what grassroots sport means to all.
“Biggleswade AC continues to meet the aspirations of so many of all ages, and of all abilities, and makes everyone feel so welcome. This club and many others are so vital for the health and mental wellbeing of the community – and I pay tribute to each and every Club volunteer who work so hard to inspire others and keep groups active.”